SummaryThree experienced homeschooling moms share lessons learned through their trials and errors to teach their children to be charitable.
A Life-Long Endeavor…
The first step in teaching children how to be charitable is to model charity in our own words and deeds.
For example, we can let our children overhear us speaking kindly about them and others. We can also make it our regular practice to serve others when a need arises.
Often, when my family attends a homeschool or church event, I will round up my children at the end of the activities and volunteer for clean-up duty. Though they may prefer to continue playing or just bid their farewells, I require them to participate with me in the clean-up.
Now that I have several adult children, I see the payoff to this plan as they exercise charity readily by lending a helping hand to others.
Of course, even parents have hard days such that we can find it challenging to maintain charity. However, those times can prove our most outstanding example. When we, as moms and dads, don’t want to exercise charity we can acknowledge the struggle and choose to be patient, kind, and forgiving.
Should we fail, we can own our mistakes by apologizing and discussing better ways to handle a difficult situation. On occasion, when one of my children has seriously violated the demands of basic charity (e.g., teasing, insulting, disrespecting), I have assigned them the task of writing an apology letter.
Their letter must state what they did wrong, why it was wrong, and show a willingness to make up for the wrong in the future. Those assignments allow them to reflect on the need for charity and the hurt caused when we fail to practice it.
Being charitable and teaching children to be charitable is a lifelong endeavor. But with effort and practice, parents will discover it is a lesson they will see the fruits of.
Tara Brelinsky, North Carolina
Follow the Saints Examples…
Daily prayer, frequent sacraments, lots of modeling, lots of apologizing to each other when we mess it up, and LOTS of beginning each day in Him whose mercies are new every morning.
We talk about the stories of the saints and the heroic martyrs, and I tell my children how they were able to make such a courageous choice when it mattered because they spent a lifetime choosing to love in the small things.
The saints teach us in their examples of answering wrath with gentleness, offering up small annoyances, and not snarking back to a bickering sibling.
It’s like a muscle you must use to develop. I try to model it. I don’t say everything I want to, especially in Northern Virginia traffic. I ask them to pray with me for people my kids know don’t like me very much. I ask their forgiveness when I am not as patient or charitable as I should be.
Lastly, every night together after the examen, we pray the acts of faith, hope, and love.
Kristin Brown, Virginia
Quoting Through Scripture…
Encouraging children to be charitable is first something taught by example.
When a child grows up seeing parents being charitable to others, it gives them that foundation of what Christians do in their lives.
When my children were small, if I wanted to encourage an act of charity, especially if it was not something they wanted to do, they had to do it out of obedience.
Now that my kids are adults, teens, and one tween, I encourage charity by quoting Scripture. There is always a Bible passage to quote for any situation that may arise to encourage charity. It gives the kids something to reflect on, which carries more weight with them than Mom suggesting an act of charity.
Once I have offered the Scripture quote, I leave it up to the child to decide for themselves what they will do because charity is not charity if it is not truly from the heart.